Sightings and Psychics
Links to a.d.sullivan & info on Susan Walsh
In mid August, several things happened at once, threads that seemed to
lead off in different directions, but would later circle back upon
themselves, twisting into that web work so common in tales dealing with
Paul O'Keefe in a Aug. 15 column for the Nutley Journal raised similar
questions about the direction the news hype had taken.
"The tabloids can now expand their salacious assassination of the
reputation of missing Nutley mother, Susan Walsh," O'Keefe wrote. "The
daily newspapers in New Jersey and New York have made a lot of hay about
Walsh's `connection' to vampire cults in New York City. Never mind that
the sole connection she had was investigating these people for a
possible article. Well now the tabloids can expand the vampire
connection into a conspiracy. There is one more vampire lurking around
Nutley. His name is Paul O'Keefe."
O'Keefe then went on to say how for "five measly dollars" he became a
vampire, noting that he had applied to an ad in the back of "Fate
The group to which he became a life time member was called the Temple of
the Vampire, which was fully recognized as a religion since 1989 when
they registered with the federal government. In condemning the tabloids,
O'Keefe said "P.T.Barum was wrong. A sucker is not born every minute,
but created unwittingly when modern Pandoras curious respond to an ad."
O'Keefe jested in describing the oaths and duties expected of vampires,
but even he didn't quite understand just how twisted the whole matter
would get within only a week of his editorial. On Aug. 22, the Nutley
Sun, O'Keefe's competition, broke the news that the world famous psychic
Dorothy Allison weighed in on the Sue Walsh Story and came to a
conclusion that was not much different from the story I was telling.
Allison was recommended to me by several residents in Secaucus who knew
I was involved in searching for Susan Walsh. The famed psychic had
helped find two children in nearby North Bergen less than a decade
"If anyone knows where your friend is, Dorothy Allison does," one source
Allison, a Nutley resident, has an international reputation for locating
missing people -- though several Hudson County psychics claim she is
over rated, the Doctor Kevorkian of the occult industry, someone more
interested in publicity than in ESP. Several said Allison only took on
cases she could already predict, where the body of evidence gives her a
strong clue to the outcome before she has to commit herself. But at the
time the Walsh family contacted her, Allison had just returned from
Canada, where she had led the Canadian Mounties to the graves of several
murder victims. In the past, she has been honored by police departments
throughout the United States and honored by the FBI. But she rarely
deals with cases so close to home and prefers to handle cases involving
"Because they are defenseless and are not responsible for the dilemma
they may find themselves in," wrote James Zoccoli in the Nutley Sun's
She also looked for those who shoot police offices and victims she
believes is in immediate danger. But in Sue's case, she didn't sense any
threat to Sue.
"I don't feel any real danger for her," Allison said. "This
(disappearance) is not because anyone kidnaped her. I don not believe
she has been murdered. I don't get a death feeling."
Allison went on to say that Sue was then staying somewhere with the name
of "The Palace," a site that had something to do with a theater. Allison
also noted that the person accompanying Sue is connected with gambling.
"What she's doing she's doing on her own," Allison said. "This is not
because someone is forcing her."
As pointed out by Zoccoli, Allison vision fit in a string of sightings,
people who were supposed to be Sue. In fact, reports had come in from
areas all around Northern New Jersey including Newark, Belleville and
Midland Park. Detectives spoke to a number of people who believe they've
actually seen her, including one of Susan's old friends. Although police
checked out all the leads, there has been no positive identification. A
priest at St. Francis Roman Catholic Church on Bloomfield Avenue in
Newark said he saw someone who looked like Sue seated in the front pew
of his church. She seemed to be wringing hecome in from areas all around
Northern New Jersey including Newark, Belleville and Midland Park.
Detectives spoke to a number of people who believe they've actually seen
her, including one of Susan's old friends. Although police checked out
all the leads, there has been no pos
The most promising sighting came from Sue's best friend, Melissa Hines,
who said she recognized Susan on the street.
"I saw her in a car with somebody," Melissa said. "We were down on
Broadway in Newark looking for her and I saw her sitting on the
passenger side of a car with this guy. I shouted her name and saw her
head turn, and then when I started running towards her and ways, the guy
started the car and took off. I couldn't catch her, but I did get the
license plate number. It was definitely her. The police checked out the
number and said it belonged to a dentist in Fairfield. He said he hadn't
been in Newark. But I saw that car. I m sure it was her."
Martha Young told Zoccoli that she was heartened to hear that Allison
believes her daughter is still alive, but Young said she is left with an
"It gives me hope," Young said. "But I don't know what to do with this
Allison's report made Melissa angry.
"I'm getting sick of the whole thing," she said. "If Susan's out there
on her own, she doesn't know what she's putting people through."
By this time, the Bergen Record had released its own version of the
Susan Walsh story, a fine piece of journalism that focused on Sue's
father: "Rumors of her fate have run rampant since Susan Walsh
disappeared last month, but her father clings to a thread of hope. Maybe
she's still alive, he thinks. Maybe she's just afraid to come home."
The story "Where is Susan, a troubled woman's strange departure,"
written by Mary Jane Fine was the first piece that seemed free of a
particular slant, and compared to the pieces that had preceded it in
previous papers, it was pure poetry.
"He has had time, far too much time now, to brood about the
possibilities," the story starts. "It has been a month, aft all, since
circumstances forced Floyd Merchant to consider where his only
daughter's off-the-track life might have led her."
While the Essex County prosecutor's office was treating Sue's vanishing
as a possible homicide, Merchant said the police didn't really believe
she was dead, and neither did he. And though this might have been the
hopeful optimism of a needy father, Fine's story claimed it echoed a
growing sentiment in the case, that Sue was out there somewhere, alive
if not well, unwilling to emerge amid all the hoopla.
"She was sick and didn't know what she was doing," Merchant said. "But
now she may and she may be afraid to come back."
Fine laid out many of the theories behind Sue's vanishing from rumors of
her being kidnaped by a stalker or abducted by a vampire cult to being
silenced by the Russian Mafia or that her vanishing was a hoax, staged
to publicize "Redlight."
"It is the last rumor, the notion that Walsh would deliberately subject
her son to such trauma, which pains Merchant the most," Fine wrote.
"Susan doesn't need any guilt," Floyd said. "I think she has a serious
self-esteem problem, but she is so loved. And everyone understand she as
in a fog, a different world, when she left."
Since the beginning of August, two freelance bounty hunters have helped
Floyd and the police in their search for Sue. Eric DeJesus and Pedro
Carmente, who work for a percentage of bail bonds when people jump bail.
They were tough, street-hardened men, used to dealing with the worst
elements in one of the most dangerous cities in the nation. But now,
they told Fine, they had a different mission, to fine Sue and bring her
back to her son, repeating what has become a mantra in the Sue Walsh
tale: "Her son is everything to her," DeJesus said. "Everything there
Although Fine painted their motivation as pure, the two men probably had
something else in mind when they took up the case. This was their first
missing person's situation, and one with a national focus. If they found
Sue -- and it was likely they would since they knew Newark as well as
anybody -- they would have a national reputation. And indeed, they were
good at what they did.
"They can rattle off the details of Walsh's disappearance as easily as
the cops doubtless can," Fine wrote.
Officials would not discuss the case, but -- as Fine pointed out --
DeJesus and Carmentate believe the police are reviewing all the calls
made from the phones near Walsh's homes, seeking to identify the person
with whom she last spoke. This would prove to be a fruitless endeavor.
Techies from Bell Atlantic would tell the police later that public
telephone connections vanish one the coin runs out, leaving no way to
trace calls. This was a fact Sue seemed somewhat aware of. Even in
college, she had a fixation for using public phones, even though in many
cases, another telephone was more convenient.
"You would always find her by the public phones," one woman from college
told me. "And she never used the same one of those twice either."
Meanwhile, DeJesus and Carmenate patrolled the wet streets of Newark in
their LTD, convinced that Sue was somewhere nearby, hiding or being
Both told Fine people had seen her, confidential informants, who
recognized her from her photograph.
"Man, you just missed her by an hour," more than one of these informants
told them, as they moved from one location to another, traveling passed
boarded up buildings and lots overgrown with weeds, areas along Broadway
that never really recovered from the 1967 riots.
"At first, the two men though the sightings were simply look-alikes --
the Strip in Newark has more than its share of pretty blondes," Fine
wrote. "But time and whisperings have convinced them otherwise. The men
acknowledge their frustration. Unless someone cough up Walsh's
whereabout -- and they say they have a fix on a person who knows --
finding her will depend on luck.
"The right place at the right time," Carmenate said.
Unfortunately, just after this story went to print on Aug. 18, the
Nutley police cornered DeJesus and Carmenate and told them to get off
"The police threatened them," Melissa said. "The police told them that
if they didn't stop, they would go to jail."
"For what?" I asked.
"For interfering with an investigation."
A bitter Floyd later confirmed this information.